Osteoarthritis is a degenerative condition resulting from wear and tear in the hip. The cartilage that covers the hip joint facilitates movement, so when this degenerates, mobility reduces while pain and stiffness increases. It is common in older people over the age of 50, especially women. Although there is no cure, there are several things you can do to ease the pain and help slow down degeneration.
What is Osteoarthritis?
Within a joint, there is a very smooth fibrous connective tissue, known as articular cartilage. This covers the areas where each bone comes into contact with another.
In a normal joint, this articular cartilage allows for smooth movement within the joint as well as acting as a shock absorber. In addition to this cartilage is another tissue, known as the synovial membrane, which produces synovial fluid that lubricates the joint.
Osteoarthritis is the degradation and degeneration of this articular cartilage. As the disease progresses, the cartilage itself becomes thinner and in some cases may wear away altogether.
Associated with these changes is the inflammation of the synovial membrane or thin lining which surrounds the hip joint to keep the synovial fluid or lubrication in place.
All of these factors cause pain and impaired movement in the joint
The exact causes of osteoarthritis are unknown however there are a number of factors that are commonly associated with the onset of the disease.
Previous Injuries – Previous trauma to a particular joint increases the risk of osteoarthritis forming there.
Hereditary – Some individuals have a defective gene responsible for cartilage production which increases their susceptibility to osteoarthritis.
Weight – As osteoarthritis commonly occurs in the weight-bearing joints, like the knee and hip, excessive loading on these joints may lead to faster progression of the disease.
Repetitive overuse – This may be as a result of excessive exercising or repeated strain on a joint over a number long period of time.
Crystal Deposits – Some crystal deposits such as uric acid crystals in gout may accumulate in joints and cause cartilage degeneration and wearing.
As yet there is no cure for arthritis however a number of treatments can be put in place to slow the progression of the disease:
NSAID’s– Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs such as Ibuprofen can provide some temporary pain relief.
Weight Loss – As obesity is associated with the onset of osteoarthritis, weight loss, if needed, can have a significant effect on slowing the disease progression.
Exercise Program – A specific exercise program can help to maintain healthy cartilage and joint range. Keeping the attaching muscles and tendons conditioned and strong will aid in the joint’s stability.
Muscle relaxants – These are usually administered in low doses and can relieve pain that arises from muscles strained in an attempt to support osteoarthritic joints.
Heat and Cold Treatments – Local application of heat and cold can help with relief from pain and inflammation after exercise.
Viscosupplementation – A viscosupplement can be administered as an injection by a clinician. This substance helps to lubricate the hip joint and can decrease the amount of inflammation.
Hip Replacement – Hip replacement operations have become more frequent as procedures have advanced
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